The Middle East, or referred as the Near East, has long been one of the world’s centers of perpetual instability. The world focuses on this specific region for its warfare between the Arabs and Israelis. The Arabs – Israeli roots of conflict are severely deep, even going back as far as biblical times. Historically the Jews claimed the area called Palestine as their homeland by citing the Old Testament of the Bible as God giving them the right to the promise land. In like fashion, the Arabs claim rights to the land citing various historical precedents from biblical times.
In addition to complicating this religious issue, modern day Christian claims to biblical sites such as Jerusalem, which is a city both the Jews and Arabs define as central ground for their religious and culture. Thus, the Middle East is an area entangled in complicated, deeply rooted nationalistic claims to religious and ethic groups. The Middle East’s incredible vast wealth of oil makes the area an extremely substantial area for the industrialized world5, and unceasingly under foreign interventions.
The superpower influence that has been exerted on the Middle East has visibly heightened tension to such level that war has broken out over a short period of time. Foreign interventions have both hindered and helped the quest for peace. During the early 1900’s, the majority of Middle East was under the soon-to-be extinct Ottoman Empire, in which nearly all regions were dominated by Arabs. While planning for WWI peace treaties, Great Britain proclaimed the Balfour Declaration in 1917, which stated that Britain will create a national homeland for the Jews.
Following WWI, Palestine became a mandate of Great Britain under the authority of the League of Nations. A limited number of Jews were privileged to enter Palestine, and Jews felt that Britain should be more effective in bringing Jews in. At the same time, the Arabs wanted no part in Jewish immigration to a nation they viewed as their homeland. And during the next couple decades, the violence, hatred, and bloodshed escalated to unimaginable heights.
Following WWII, Great Britain decided to withdraw its troops from Palestine and disregard the responsibility given by the League of Nations for its inability to contain the endless violence between the Palestinians and the Jews. 5 In an attempt to settle disputes and a solution, the United Nations suggested in 1947 that Palestine be partitioned between the Jews and the Arabs. 3 When it became clear that the British intended to leave by May 15, leaders of the Yishuv decided to implement that part of the partition plan calling for establishment of a Jewish state.
In Tel Aviv on May 14 the Provisional State Council, formerly the National Council, “representing the Jewish people in Palestine and the World Zionist Movement,” proclaimed the “establishment of the Jewish State in Palestine, to be called Medinat Israel (the State of Israel)… open to the immigration of Jews from all the countries of their dispersion. “6 The guerrilla warfare immediately intensified between the latter. On May 14, 1948, the Arabs were no match for the Jewish forces and the Jewish state of Israel was declared. First Middle East War The First Middle East War took place during the time of 1948 to 1949.
The Arab’s goal was to eliminate the Jewish threat in Palestine. And the Israeli’s objective was to maintain existing position in Palestine, and hopefully to expand to reclaim what they considered to be their rightful homeland in the Middle East. Initially, the Egyptian and Jordanian forces advance on Israel. The Israelis effectively repelled the attacks and moved to invade Arab territory. Soon the Israeli forces became victorious and declared its independence. The Jews controlled 77% of Palestinian Land and over one million Palestinians were forced out of their country.
Following the war, U. N. negotiator Dr. Ralph Bunche encouraged the two nations to sign a truce. 3 The consequences and implications of the First Middle East War were significant. The Israeli victory encourages an influx of Jewish immigrants from around the globe to Palestine. Arabs are now considered as refugees in their former homeland. The West Band became under the Jordanian control, and the Gaza Strip becomes under the Egyptian control. The United States begin to align itself as Pro-Israeli, and the Soviet Union aligns themselves as Pro-Arab.
Despite the truce, the tension between the Arabs and Israeli did not diminish but rather magnified. 6 The Suez Canal (2nd Arab – Israeli War) The Suez Canal is a major shipping lane for goods, and control of this vital shipping region is key to controlling both economic and political power in the middle east. Nasser, had become a leader in the Arab world. His nationalization of the Suez Canal 1956 provide an opportunity for Israel with Britain and France, to attack Egypt and occupy a part of Palestine that Egypt had control since 1949.
Soon the British and French attack Egypt to keep the canal open. Eisenhower of United States decided to take diplomatic action at the Untied Nations to force the removal of foreign troops from Egypt for they saw the actions by Britain and France were imperialistic. The fighting was halted by the UN after a few days, and a UN Emergency Force (UNEF) was sent to supervise the cease-fire in the Canal zone. In a rare instance of cooperation, the United States and the Soviet Union supported the UN resolution forcing the three invading countries to leave Egypt and Gaza.
By the end of the year their forces withdrew from Egypt, but Israel refused to leave Gaza until early 1957, and only after the United States had promised to help resolve the conflict and keep the Straits of Tiran open. The consequences of this event became the end of British and French Foreign Dominance in the Middle East. The Soviet Union suffered loss of status in the eyes of Arabs for its ineffectiveness in helping the Arabs. The tension escalates even more between the Arabs and Israelis. 8 In 1964, the PLO or Palestinian Liberation Organization is established seeking revenge and a chance to take back Palestine.
The Six Day War After the Suez-Sinai war Arab nationalism increased dramatically, as did demands for revenge led by Egypt’s president Nasser. The formation of a united Arab military command that massed troops along the borders, together with Egypt’s closing of the Straits of Tiran and Nasser’s insistence in 1967 that the UNEF leave Egypt, led Israel to attack Egypt, Jordan, and Syria simultaneously on June 5 of that year. Israel begin to launch sudden attack on Egypt, destroying much of Egypt’s airforce while it sat on the ground.
And this time, Israel secures the Sinai Peninsula, West Bank, Gaza Strip, and the Golan Heights. 6 The Six-Day War left Israel in possession of Gaza and the Sinai Peninsula, which it took from Egypt; Arab East Jerusalem and the West Bank, which it took from Jordan; and the Golan Heights, taken from Syria. Land under Israel’s jurisdiction after the1967 war was about four times the size of the area within its 1949 armistice frontiers. The occupied territories included an Arab population of about 1. 5million. 1 After the Six Day War, the tension builds even more.
Guerilla warfare is increasingly used by Israeli and Arabs, and acts of terrorism increase between the two groups. The United States begin to increase its sales of weapons to Israel. Peace in the Middle East seems hopeless. UN Security Council Resolution 242 Resolution 242 was passed after the War of 1967 or the Six Day War. It hopes to serve as a corner stone for future diplomatic efforts in peace process in coming years. The resolution states that Israeli armed forces from territories occupied in the recent conflict be withdrawn, and a termination of claims or states of belligerency.
Each country must respect and recognize the territorial integrity, sovereignty, and political independence of every State in the area and their right to live in peace, free from threats or violence. The resolution also states the necessity for each state to have freedom of navigation through international waterways, and a future need for a just settlement of the Palestinian refugees. 9 Yom Kippur War In 1973, Egypt joined Syria in a war on Israel to regain the territories lost in 1967. The two Arab states struck unexpectedly on October 6, which fell on Yom Kippur, Israel’s holiest fast day.
Israeli forces managed to defeat the attackers after a three-week struggle, but at the cost of many casualties, and the Arabs’ strong showing won them support from the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR) and most of the world’s developing countries. Saudi Arabia and Kuwait financed the Arab forces, making it possible for Egypt and Syria to receive the most sophisticated Soviet weapons, and the Arab oil-producing states cut off petroleum exports to the United States and other Western nations in retaliation for their aid to Israel.
From the result of this war, the Israelis, with American aid, manage to capture territory from Syria and crossed the Suez Canal. Over seven hundred troops are sent by the UN and negotiate peace and the Arab forces finally were withdrawn on May 7, 1974. 5 UN Security Council Resolution 338 In the later stages of the Yom Kippur War – after Israel retaliated the Syrian attack on the Golan Heights and established a battlefield on the Egyptian side of the Suez Canal – international efforts to stop the fighting were intensified.